Robert Hazard: 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun' writer

When Robert Hazard dashed off "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" in 20 minutes in the shower, he never expected what he called this "kind of silly song" to become a worldwide smash for him, or anybody else for that matter.

He recorded a demo of the composition in 1979 and forgot all about it, until Rick Chertoff, who was looking for material while producing Cyndi Lauper's solo début She's So Unusual in 1983, recalled its simple message and catchy chorus. Chertoff took Lauper to meet the writer, who agreed to let her tweak the lyrics of the song to fit her no-nonsense female perspective. The accompanying video became a staple of MTV and helped turn the unthreatening feminist anthem into a transatlantic hit in 1984. For a while, Lauper and her thrift-store look even rivalled the early streetwise Madonna.

"Girls Just Want to Have Fun" has been covered by everyone from the grunge group Pearl Jam to the teen sensation Miley Cyrus, via the actress Cybill Shepherd. In 1994, Lauper herself updated the song, turning it into "Hey Now (Girls Just Want to Have Fun)". Writing such a ubiquitous hit proved to be both a blessing and curse for Hazard. He could count on a steady stream of royalties – said to have topped the $1m mark in the Nineties – but requests for him to play the song at solo shows usually fell on deaf ears.

Born Robert Rimato in Philadelphia in 1948, he grew up in a musical family: his father was an operatic tenor with the Philadelphia Opera Company and also owned a jeweller's shop, while his older sister turned him on to Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent and Carl Perkins. "The music just knocked me out," he said.

He spent the early Seventies gigging in coffee houses and folk clubs. Later, he played in a reggae band, then led a new wave group, Robert Hazard and the Heroes. In 1981, the Rolling Stone journalist Kurt Loder, in Philadelphia to review the opening night of a Rolling Stones tour, came across Hazard and his band in a bar on South Street. He enthused about his find in an article entitled "Philly Hero".

The local radio station had been playing a brooding track called "Escalator of Life" on cassette and, the following year, Hazard and his group recorded a five-track EP which included this song, along with the electro-pop "Chain Reaction" and a radical reworking of Bob Dylan's "Blowin' In the Wind". The EP, financed with a loan from Hazard's uncle, sold over 50,000 copies in the Philadelphia area and attracted the interest of RCA Records.

They signed Hazard and reissued the EP, turning "Escalator of Life" into a minor hit in 1983 but, despite appearances on American Bandstand and tours with U2 and The Motels, never seemed to know how to translate his local popularity on a national scale, or to capitalise on the fact that he had written a smash for Lauper. Wing of Fire, Hazard's début album, sold 100,000 copies in 1984 but he was dropped after the follow-up, Darling, two years later. Recently, he had reverted to his early stripped-down folky, bluesy, rootsy style with the albums The Seventh Lake (2003), Blue Mountain (2004) and Troubadour (2007).

Pierre Perrone

Robert Rimato (Robert Hazard), singer, songwriter and guitarist: born Philadelphia 21 August 1948; twice married (two sons, one daughter); died Boston, Massachusetts 5 August 2008.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments